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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Oral history program

Repository: Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit

Collection Description (CRHP): Interviews that deal with the civil rights movement in particular are those of William B. Bryant (an African American judge), Aubrey E. Robinson Jr. (an African American judge appointed by Pres. Johnson), Samuel Dash, David Isbell, and Joseph Rauh. In addition, an oral history is included of Erwin Griswold, a former member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in the 1960s.

Collection Description (Extant): The Society's Oral History Program preserves the recollections of judges, lawyers, and others who have helped to shape the history of the Circuit. Recorded interviews, later transcribed, capture the voices, inflections, insights, and stories of the very people who know most intimately how the courts have functioned and developed over the years. Photographs of many of the subjects are also available.

Conducted by volunteer attorneys trained by the Program, oral history interviews provide anecdotal information about family relationships and backgrounds, personal observations about career histories and interactions with colleagues, reflections on the times, comments on law practice and significant court decisions, the administration of justice, life in the courts of the D.C. Circuit, and lessons learned from lifetimes in the law.

Access Copy Note: The completed oral histories are maintained in the Judges' Library at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse, the Manuscript Reading Room of the Library of Congress, and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. Most of the oral history transcripts, including photographs, are available on the web site.

Collection URL: External Link

Digital Status: Partial

Extent: circa 66 transcripts; audio cassettes; photographs

Language: English

Related Archival Items: Erwin Griswold's papers are the Harvard Law School Library's Special Collections and include interviews of him.

The History Office of the Federal Judicial Center contains an oral history of Bell, Griffin B. Fifth Circuit USCA, 1961-1976, 1995 Interview, Interviewer: Sarah Wilson; 56 pp. He discusses his efforts to get more African Americans and women in the legal profession in the 1970s; certainly the civil rights movement made this possible.

Interviewees: William B. Bryant, Aubrey E. Robinson Jr., Samuel Dash, David Isbell, Joseph Rauh, Erwin Griswold

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


Affirmative action programs
African American judges
African American lawyers
Civil rights--Cases
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
United States Commission on Civil Rights
United States--Politics and government
United States. Circuit Court (District of Columbia)
World War, 1939-1945--Participation, African American


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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